THOUSANDS of people have attended, more than half a million pounds raised for charity, and yet after 40 years organisers of a local fair have decided to bow out while they are still on top.

Forde Abbey held its first fair more than four decades ago, when it launched as a small event on the grounds of the historic monastery.

The charity fete was launched by Mark and Lisa Roper, owners of Forde Abbey.

They were initially helped by daughter Alice, who now lives in the Grade I listed building and runs the fair with her family.

A spokesman for the family said: “After much deliberation the decision has been made to make the 2019 Forde Abbey Summer Charity Fair, which ran at the end of July 2019, the last.

“The popular fair, organised by the owners of Forde Abbey, the Roper and Kennard family, with the help of a volunteer committee, has been running for over 40 years and has raised in excess of £500,000 for charity.”

After a modest start for the fair, it was really in the last 10 years that it blossomed in size, attracting thousands of visitors.

This year, £26,000 was raised and shared between two charities - the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute (RABI) and Riding for the Disabled including carriage driving (RDA).

Alice Kennard said: “We are immensely proud of what has been achieved but feel that the fair has run its course and to stop the fair while it is at the top of its game is the right decision.

“The family and the committee would like to express their sincere thanks to all the volunteers, the businesses and entertainers that have traded at the fair and the wider community who have supported the event over the years – your support is very much appreciated.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed working with everybody and in particularly working with and alongside the charities that we have supported.”

The RABI has been involved in the fair for around a decade, also sitting on the committee and helping with organisation.

Riding for the Disabled has been involved for four or so years, and before them beneficiaries included Marie Curie.

A spokesman for the fair added: “As farmers raising money for RABI was a no brainer.

“Alice and family love horses and have always been keen supporters of the RDA, in fact the local RDA and carriage driving operates from Forde Abbey.

“The family is still very keen to raise funds for charity and will be looking at other fundraising activities in the not too distant future.”

Pam Wills from the RABI thanked the family for its fundraising efforts so far.

She said: “We have nothing but praise for the work and support that the Roper and Kennard family and the volunteers have given us over the years.

“The monies raised from the annual fair have been a vital contribution to the work of the charities involved.”